Rent is HOW MUCH? – Apartment Hunt Starts in DC

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALiving in one of the richest counties in America seems great…until you begin to search for your own place. I’m currently at home with my parents as I finish up law school because, you know, it’s smart and frugal and a little crazy. It is time to fly away from the coop now that I have a new job. Sure, I could have afforded living on my own sooner, but it would have meant paycheck to paycheck living, which I didn’t think was worth it when my parents were a commutable distance from work and school. Many people do not have the luxury of living at home after graduation, but if you do, that’s a personal decision that you need to make depending on your situation. It was annoying, but worth it for me.

With my closest friends settled in their living situations and not looking for additional roommates, I began scouring Craigslist daily and downloaded several apps to make sure I didn’t miss a single relevant listing. I quickly realized that moving in the spring/summer timeframe means higher rents than what I saw in the winter. Yes, I kept an eye out well before my targeted move-out date because I wanted to see how the market fluctuated in my area. My targeted maximum rent has gone up several hundred dollars, and I cry daily at the monthly budget I’ve written out for my rent, utilities, and parking (I refuse to give up my car for urban living).

If you are just starting out on your own, here are a few key questions you should answer:

  • What is my targeted budget? What is my maximum livable budget?
    • I suggest including additional amounts in your monthly budget for things such as furniture, and make sure you include utilities, groceries, and parking, if applicable.  Furniture can be a costly item on your budget, but there are ways to get things cheap and even free, if you know where to look.  If you end up buying brand new, you may be able to finance, but watch out for the interest rates they charge.
  • Do I want a roommate? Sometimes that decision is made for you when you see how high the rents are.
  • What is my rental search radius?  There is usually trade-off between how far you want to go and the rent.
    • Proximity to work or school, friends, grocery stores, gym, etc.
  • How flexible are my move-in dates? You have more options and more room to negotiate if you can be flexible.

I’ll be providing my answers to these questions next! Join me on my journey that will inevitably end with me fighting to get an overpriced, outdated rental.

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Olivia* is a law student living in the big (non-fruit) city experiencing her first time living on her own. While a long-time renter, this is her first foray into renting on her own. Olivia enjoys unlimited mimosa brunches in the rare free time she has between work and school. *Due to her law school's and employer's privacy recommendations Olivia be blogging using a pen name.

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